There’s no way around it: Baghdad is a dangerous place; a fact that was not lost on my wife. So when I told my 7-month pregnant wife that I was going to Baghdad for two weeks it was met with a mixture of reactions.
Her: How long will you be gone?
Me: Two weeks.
Her: How much are you getting paid for this?
Her: To tell the story of Kent Couch and his flying a lawn chair?
Me: Kind of….
Truth is, that’s how it started. We were invited to Iraq to tell the story of Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta as they launched a double lawn chair equipped platform from the center of Baghdad, powered by nothing more than helium-filled party balloons. Crazy story, right? They were going to break several cluster ballooning world records, flying to an altitude of more than 25,000 feet and staying aloft for more than 24 hours. This was a great story, we thought, and could easily be sold as an interesting documentary/ TV special. Since the airfare and accommodations were covered, the cost of production would be at a minimum. We felt that we could easily get our initial investment back.
Last November, my business partner Marshall Burgtorf packed his gear and boarded the plane to Baghdad. That’s when things changed. The news media grabbed ahold of this story, and it went worldwide in a couple of weeks. Fareed and Kent saw an opportunity. What if they could bring the attention of the world to help the millions of orphans in Iraq? No question about it. This immediately became the new plan with the launch postponed until March 2012.
Fast forward to…. well… now. It’s March 2012 and the whole WK team is leaving for Iraq on March 17th. The launch is scheduled for the 29th and we have the privilege of not only telling the crazy story of two adventurers floating in the skies of Iraq but also being an integral part of bringing the needs of Iraqi orphans to non-government and humanitarian aid organizations around the world.
Yes, Baghdad is still dangerous, but all I can say is that… “I love my job”.
Here is a prologue to the documentary put together from Marshall’s previous trip to the middle east. You can follow the whole story at balloonsoverbaghdad.com.